You can feel it in your bones. You’ve been on a plane for the better part of twenty hours. You stepped out into 100-degree weather with 100 percent humidity. Not feeling real well. The chefs are disoriented to say the least. Making their way to the market and getting the chance to walk around and eat must be a major relief. But the thought that they would get off as easy as a calm walk was beyond a misplaced sense of security. Seeing Padma is an immediate slap into sobriety. The challenge was very straightforward, and I feel the chefs really should have, and may have, seen it coming. I think the interpretation that Angelo had an advantage was totally accurate. He has a long history of working in restaurants that have woks as well as a noted pedigree of Asian cuisine. With that being said you can never be considered a shoo-in. All four of the chefs did a tremendous job with the challenge. The main reason that Ed came out on top was because he was able to make the dish a little more satiating and complete than the others. Winning immunity is a huge advantage and really does let you take a breath and acclimate to the Singapore setting. He really needs to keep hit wits about him, but Ed now has a bit of time to get himself back to a normal state of mind.
I have to say I was pretty taken aback by the overt showing of contempt for each other. There was so much emphasis on wanting to make each other fail that it made me really question the focus of some of the chefs, especially this late in the game. You really should just be looking at your dishes and how you can excel. You can’t let your guard down for a second and it seemed as if there was so much negative energy needlessly spent.
Dana Cowin is awesome. She is very levelheaded, kind, and knowledgeable about food. She does an amazing job of bringing a delicate and eloquent hand to food criticism. What she also brings is an immense level of pressure. She is one of the most important and influential gastronomes in America. She has the ability to lift you to stardom or tear you down to nothing. Most chefs are highly aware of this when they meet her. So have to cook for a dinner she is hosting is intimidating to say the least.
I do feel as if there was at least a bit of gamesmanship played by Ed during the dialogue about the menu, but all of the chefs were ultimately responsible for deciding to prepare one dish a piece. All of them felt edgy about doing only one, so I was surprised the chefs felt caught off guard by Tom’s request for an additional item, and that Ed, with immunity, was the only to go out on a limb and plan on that second one. But I will also say that all of the chefs did a good job for persevering and pulling off what were great dishes; it’s rare to have such minimal negative criticism from the judges.
Ed pulled off what was one really good dish, and one dish that blew the judges away, the banana fritters. By focusing on really impressing the judges and wanting to do a stellar pair of dishes he was able help give himself an ego boost, which will probably help give him a little extra push heading into the last challenge. Hopefully he won’t get overly comfortable and lose sight of the goal. Now Kelly really did do a good job; it just came across like her two dishes were just a little shy of the refinement of the other chefs, just by a hair. I would imagine that getting to the penultimate challenge and heading home has to be especially hard. You traveled to the finals and didn’t get to play in the champions round. Now we are down to just three, and that means we get to see who wins the title next week!
Follow me on Twitter @elikirshtein